WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, single use needles into specific locations (acupuncture points) on the body. The acupuncture points used in a treatment will vary from patient to patient, but points on the arms and legs are commonly used.
From a Traditional Chinese medicine perspective, points are chosen based on their ability to regulate the flow of energy and blood, and the function of the organs.
In Western terms, acupuncture point stimulation has an effect on nerves and hormonal system, and the muscles and connective tissues.
The end goal is the same: to help the body regulate itself and return to a state of balance, so you experience improved health and wellbeing.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Unfortunately, a modern understanding of the exact mechanism through which acupuncture works still eludes us. There are theories, some researchers believe that acupuncture stimulates electromagnetic signals within the body which either triggers an increase in the body's ability to reduce pain, or kickstarts the body's innate healing function. It also appears that acupuncture affects many systems in the body, including parts of the brain that are associated with processing emotion and pain.
Researchers are learning more all the time. A 2014 study using CT scans showed "a clear distinction" between the way structures of the body look at acupuncture point locations, compared with non-acupuncture locations on the body. Hopefully we will eventually be able to understand (from a scientific point of view) exactly how acupuncture works.
IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
Acupuncture is a relatively safe treatment if performed by an experienced practitioner who has received appropriate training. Registered practitioners (like me!) have up to 1,000 hours of training in safe needling technique, including at least one full year of formal clinical supervision under the guidance of experienced teachers. However, there is a small risk of bleeding, bruising, or feeling light headed after needling. All of these are easily managed in clinic and resolve either immediately, or in the days following treatment.
If needling safety techniques are not followed, acupuncture and dry needling carries the risk of causing pneumothorax. This occurs when the lung tissue is injured, causing collapse of the lung. The main symptoms of a pneumothorax are sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms following acupuncture or dry needling on the torso, you should seek medical attention. It is also recommended that you only seek treatment from a registered practitioner, who has received the proper training.
If you're feeling unsure or have any questions about the safety of acupuncture, please get in touch via the contact form for more information.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Acupuncture does not typically hurt, although you may briefly experience sensations that range from a tingle, to a dull spreading sensation, sometimes a twinge. The exact sensation varies from person to person. Once the sensation has been achieved I stop stimulation of the needle, at which point the sensation should also stop. If not, the needle will be removed. Your comfort during treatment is paramount. Acupuncture is something to be enjoyed!
And remember, acupuncture needles are nothing like the hypodermic needles most people have experience with.
I'M SCARED OF NEEDLES! CAN I STILL BENEFIT FROM CHINESE MEDICINE?
Absolutely. Acupuncture is one of the pillars of Chinese medicine, but not the only one. Chinese medicine also offers herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle advice, and massage therapy.
If you'd like to try acupuncture or Chinese medicine but are feeling nervous, please contact me so I can answer any questions you may have.
HOW QUICKLY DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
In many cases acupuncture can work immediately to help alleviate symptoms.
Treatment courses will vary depending on the individual case and whether the condition is acute (new) or chronic (has been a problem for a while). Some conditions are quick to respond and may only require 1 or 2 appointments, others can be more stubborn and require more. To begin with it is common for the treatment to be more frequent, with a goal to begin spacing treatments more further apart once an improvement is seen.
To discuss your particular situation, please contact me for a complimentary 30 minute discovery call.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACUPUNCTURE AND DRY NEEDLING?
Dry needling is predominantly used to release tight muscles. It is effective in releasing the muscles and tendons by inserting a needle into a trigger point. It is often performed with thicker needles, and stimulation can be quite strong to encourage the muscles to respond and relax.
This type of trigger point needling is called "ashi" needling in Chinese medicine, and would be used if the acupuncturist were treating a muscular condition. However ashi needling is just one component of acupuncture.
Because acupuncture can affect the hormonal and nervous system, it works more broadly than dry needling and can be used to assist in the management of a range of issues including digestive problems, skin issues, sleep problems, anxiety and depression, PMS, menopause, constipation, endometriosis, cardiovascular health, and hypertension to name a few.
Unsure if you would like acupuncture or dry needling? Contact me to learn more.